DISCLAIMER: This is not going to be an exciting post filled with pictures and talks of food.
This is the story of how I went to new heights (literally and figuratively) for a textbook by the name of “American Popular Music from Minstrelsy to MP3”, which (not surprisingly) you can not find anywhere in the French Riviera.
Long story short, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to unroll in a couple of my classes at SKEMA (the university I am attending here in Nice) and enroll instead in a couple of online classes through UF. On the last day of drop/add week, might I add, so I actually needed this textbook about a week ago.
Yes, I did my research. There was no pdf file or e-book. My only option was to buy it and have it shipped (I paid more for international shipping than for the actual book). I even paid extra to have the shipping expedited, but unfortunately, I was not home at the precise moment that the book was to arrive. No, they did not leave the package. No, they did not even leave the package at the post office across the street. They brought the package all the way back to the closest UPS, which happens to be in the middle of nowhere Nice.
I take a train into the city of Nice. From there, I call an uber to take me to the UPS. Little did I know that it would be a 25 minute drive through narrow, winding roads to the top of a mountain that overlooked the city. (I bet my parents were happy to see that charge show up on their uber account!) Oh, and the uber got lost on the way, which I don’t blame him. The roads that high up were pretty insane. I could, however, have done without the lecturing on how I “should try to learn French” from the uber driver. (I DID say “bonjour!” And I’ve only been here about two weeks… I’m trying, okay?!)
Well, we finally arrive at a conglomeration of warehouses in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The uber driver snuck through the gated entrance behind a few delivery trucks. Luckily, I spot the UPS logo on the side of one of the warehouses and signal to the driver to stop. I thank him (in French of course), and make my way up to the warehouse. Unsure of where to go, I luckily find one worked (who does not speak English), and he signals to me pointing at the sky. I take this as, “go in and go up the stairs”. Which I do, and I look through a few doors before finding a small office with three workers in it.
The workers barely spoke English, but it was enough to understand why I was there. They told me I had to pay a 33 euro fee (which at that point I didn’t even question… I just wanted to get this textbook and leave), and then they gave me a slip of paper to bring down to the warehouse.
So, I go downstairs and ring the bell for assistance at an outside window to the warehouse. After waiting in the near-freezing weather for about 10 minutes, I am finally helped. Thankfully, he speaks English, and I was given my package. Now, I must figure out how to get home.
With the Uber gone and me being 30 minutes from Nice up in the mountains, I wasn’t sure what my options were. So, I decided to walk. I look on my phone (which has 8% charge left) and see a train station .7 miles away. I proceed to walk to this train station (mind you, on the side of the highway with no sidewalks), and I eventually arrive at a ramshackle building covered in plastic. I was hesitant to think that this was the train station, but a train pulled up just as I arrived. Unsure of where this train is going and not seeing anywhere to buy a ticket, I use the stairs outside of the under-construction building and hop on with my fingers crossed.
Completely paranoid from being threatened with a fine on my last train ride for not buying a ticket, I see the man checking tickets and hurriedly wave him over. Luckily, I could just buy a ticket from him AND the train was headed for Nice! So, my luck had turned around! From the train station in Nice, I walked to the bigger station that would take me back to Juan-les-Pins. My phone had died, but I have been to this station enough to know how to get home, and 3 hours from my initial uber ride, I was walking through my front door.
Now, I know this was not the most intriguing story, and there weren’t any pictures to accompany it, but this is a first-hand account of the struggles one runs into while living abroad and not knowing the language.
I hope my Popular Music in America professor reads this and understands what a dedicated student I am (and that I deserve an automatic A for my struggles).